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Brown’s steal completes Abington’s comeback over Cumberland Valley in PIAA-6A 2nd round

NEW HOLLAND >> Just 1:29 into the second half, Kassondra Brown picked up her fourth foul, necessitating a high level of caution from the Abington senior the remainder of the PIAA Class 6A girls basketball second-round game.

But after the Galloping Ghosts battled their way back to even terms with Cumberland Valley in the final minute, Brown showed little hesitation making a break to intercept a pass, driving down the court then passing off to Camryn Lexow for a layup, breaking a 50-50 tie with just 17.7 seconds remaining.

 “I think I’m very good at anticipation for my size,” said Brown, the 6-foot 2 Rhode Island commit. “And I sat there and waited for the ball and it just fell into my hands. And I found my teammate.”

And from 10 points down earlier in the fourth quarter, Abington found a way to save its season, finishing the contest on an 18-4 run to rally past the District 3 champion Eagles for a 52-48 victory Tuesday night at Garden Spot High School.

“I can’t even keep my composure. I’m more proud of 13 kids than I’ve ever been,” Ghosts coach Dan Marsh said. “So much adversity, never quitting and they believe in each other, they fight for each other. I’m literally dumb-founded, I’m so proud of them. They were a lot of times where they just could of packed it in and they didn’t I’m proud of them, I’m literally I’m speechless.”

Brown scored six of her 13 points in the fourth, Tamia Wessels hit four 3-pointers for team-high 14 points and Lexow added 12 points as the Ghosts (26-4) advance to the state quarterfinals for the second straight year. Friday, Abington faces the side it lost to in the round last season – SOL American Conference rival Upper Dublin, which topped North Allegheny 41-31 at Chambersburg High School.

“Well, that’ll be another war,” Marsh said. “At least it’s close.”

UD knocked out Abington 46-41 in the 2018 6A quarters on the way to a state title. Abington moved into the SOL American Conference this season and split the conference title with the Cardinals. The Ghosts have taken two of the three matchups so far this year, mostly recently besting Upper Dublin the SOL semifinals 56-44 Feb. 9.

Julie Jekot hit four 3-pointers and scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth for Cumberland Valley (23-5), which was looking to reach its first state quarterfinal since 2015 when it won a third straight PIAA 4A title.

“The bottom line was we missed free throws and we made turnovers, gave them opportunities to again have possession,” Cumberland Valley coach Bill Wolf said. “You end up making again some free throws, probably win and also again if you take care of the ball we probably win. Or if we do both, we definitely win.”

Tuesday, Abington scored the game’s first five points and held the lead until Courtney Campbell capped the third quarter with five straight – a three to tie it at 31 with a basket inside off a Linda Leitzel assist just before buzzer for a 33-31 CV advantage.

The Eagles proceeded to start the fourth with an 11-2 run – eight points coming from Julia Jekot – to go up 44-34 after a Kennedy Kuffa triple.

“After they made that run, I feel like everyone’s head was all over the place,” Brown said. “We were trying to take fast shots and then eventually after one of our timeouts Marsh reassured us, we got this, we just have to slow down. And that’s when we played Abington basketball.”

The Ghosts chipped away at the deficit, frustrating Cumberland Valley with its full-court pressure while the Eagles twice missed the front ends of 1-and-1 free throws to give Abington an opening.

A Brown putback followed by two from Lexow had the Ghosts within 46-42 before Leitzel made both ends of her 1-and-1 at 1:12.

Brown’s basket made it 48-44 and after CV missed a 1-and-1 at 59.5 seconds, Brown was fouled at 47.1 seconds and made her second shot at the line, cutting the margin to three.

Lexow came up with a steal and couldn’t get a shot to drop but Kaeleigh Sierianni was fouled on a putback attempt and hit one free throw to make it 48-46 with 40.1 seconds left.

“Our pressure – I’m so proud of them – finally got to them a little bit,” Marsh said. “And it took a long time. That’s a really well-coached team. We weren’t turning them over and that’s what we need to do to get our stuff started. And they handed our stuff really well ‘til the end.

With 35.5 seconds, Cumberland Valley again could not convert on a 1-and-1 and the Ghosts’ Khalis Whiting drew a foul on a drive at 27.4 and made both at the line to tie things up at 48.

Brown then proceeded to swipe Leitzel’s pass intended for Sam Murphy on the left wing with Brown getting the ball to Lexow – who had pressured Leitzel on the pass – for the go-ahead hoop.

“That’s what she does, she’s a great anticipator. And she read it and took it,” said Marsh of Brown. “I mean, how many kids, who struggled all game are going to make that pass to Cam. I mean, that’s us in a T right there.”

Cumberland Valley still had a chance to tie or regain the lead with a three but the Eagles were called for a travel on the baseline at 12.6 seconds. The Ghosts broke the Eagles’ pressure leading to a Whiting layup to seal the victory.

“To be honest, we just had that confidence,” Brown said. “We have that it that I don’t feel like any other team has. Yeah, it was hard on me watching my teammates, not being able to do anything about it but they held it out. I’m so proud of them.”

In the first quarter, a Miranda Liebtag 3-pointer put the Ghosts up 15-11 with a Lexow steal leading to a Wessels triple for a seven-point lead. CV cut the margin to 20-15 at the end of the opening eight minutes after an Abbie Miller basket.

In the second quarter, Brown scoring all five of Abington’s points while the Eagles collected six points, all from the foul line. Brown put the Ghosts up 25-19 before two Murphy free throws at 48.3 seconds made it 25-21 at the break.

A Wessels trey had Abington up 28-21 in the third before Brown picked up her fourth foul at 6:31. A 7-1 CV run had the Ghosts’ lead down to 29-28 before Lexow scored on a drive to make it 31-28.

However, Campbell’s three tied it with her last-second basket giving the Eagles the 33-31 edge at the end of the third. Cumberland Valley made it a 10-0 burst as five straight points from Jekot had the Eagles leading 38-31.

Lexow drained a three to get Abington within 38-34 but consecutive triples from Jekot and Kuffa pushed CV’s advantage to 10.

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